Hello, and happy new year!
I’m back from a lovely long rest over the festive season. Here in Scotland we take New Year quite, quite seriously – by which I mean we celebrate with all our might, and start the year as we mean to go on. In my case, I suppose this means drunk, which might be difficult or dangerous to maintain at all times, but also happy and in good company. Not such a bad thing to aim for, eh? We even get an extra day off on January 2nd, presumably for recovery time.
Things will be a little different this year, here on Rock Salt. As most of you will know, in November i wrote my first novel – all 63,000 words of it – and while the story is complete, there are a few areas of the book that need plumped up, like feather pillows, and more than a few places where the writing needs nipped and tucked into something more streamlined and more resembling the English language. It wasn’t always easy to write 1,670 words every day, but I managed it for the most part, often ignoring my inner editor to achieve the target. Now she’s allowed back in the room, as long as she’s nice. Anyway, to cut this long story short, I’ll be spending more time this year on writing outside of my blog. I have to admit, I enjoyed not having the self-imposed obligation to post thrice weekly, and I’d like to thank all my guest posters once again for keeping Rock Salt alive in November – and offer my own apologies for it being in something of a coma in December. When you put everything but the very essential on hold to write for a month, you have some catching up to do when you get back… The main change will be that I will be down to one post a week, on a Wednesday. This will, hopefully, give me time to complete my novel, in time for me starting me second novel in April as part of Camp NaNoWriMo. This year is set to be very busy!
Today, by way of easing us all in a bit gently, I’d like to post this very simple party food suggestion. I can’t even call it a recipe, it’s so beautifully straightforward that it doesn’t even merit the title. Perfect for when you’re having people round and you’re short on time. On the scale of party food, I think it’s a step above opening a packet of crisps, and a step below making your own cheese straws. Easy, but classy, and – of course – delicious. Here’s the lowdown.
Mini Caprese Skewers – makes 16
- 125g mozzarella pearls
- 8 Vittoria tomatoes – or another small variety, like cherry
- 16 medium-sized basil leaves
- smoked sea salt and freshly ground pepper – to taste
- 16 toothpicks
I’m pretty sure you can guess where this goes, now. But in case you’re not sure…
Slice all your tomatoes in half. Then, take a toothpick and thread onto it a tomato half, a folded basil leaf, a mozzarella pearl and another folded basil leaf. Set on a nice plate. Repeat until you run out of mozzarella, tomatoes, basil and toothpicks, which should all happen at the same time.
Arrange your skewers in a way that pleases you – lining them up neatly is helpful to make sure your seasoning is applied evenly, though you can always pile them in a crazy heap once you’re done with that, if you’re so inclined. If you *are* so inclined, I’d thank you to stay out of my kitchen, which has more than sufficient crazy in it already and does not need your avant-garde approach to food presentation.
From a height (let’s not be silly; just lift your arm up a bit, no need to get climbing up on the table or swinging from the lightshades. Again, unless you’re that way inclined), sprinkle over a couple of pinches of salt and several turns of pepper, until the mozzarella looks evenly speckled.
Don’t you love the word ‘speckled’? I do.
Seasoning from a height helps to avoid clumps of salt or pepper anywhere, as well as looking a bit cheffy for your own internal cookery programme. I didn’t add any oil to these, though you could if you wanted to. Once seasoned, let your skewers rest in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. I made these a few hours in advance, and they were perfect. You could probably do them a day ahead and rest overnight, but I wouldn’t like to ask too much of the fresh basil – you might find a sleep in the fridge leaves it wilted and bitter. It’d certainly leave me wilted and bitter, I can tell you that much.
These are pretty much the perfect party food in that they look impressive, taste great, are easy to make and can be done ahead of time. They tick a lot of boxes. They don’t contain any pastry, which is a point against them, but then again you can always crack open a box of mini sausage rolls, can’t you?
I got a gorgeous new camera for Christmas – not a fancy, weighs the same as your head one, but a sleek (purple!) 14MP point and shoot. Once I get used to it I’m sure I’ll start doing it justice with my photographs. I do hope so.